How to Get Your Free Credit Report

Published January 8, 2013 by

In today’s job market it pays to have as much of a competitive edge as possible. When you are up for a job, not only are your education and skills under scrutiny, but your credit is also being reviewed to determine your overall quality and marketability. Therefore, it is critical that you understand what is on your credit report. Thankfully, managing to get your hands on a free copy of your credit report is not as complicated a process as you might think.

What Your Credit Report Is

Your credit report is a compilation of personal information such as your present and past addresses, your occupation and places of employment, and your credit accounts. Also noted on your credit report is your payment history and the standing of your lines of credit. In addition, if you have missed payments, defaulted on a loan or line of credit, or have made credit inquiries, these will show up on your credit report as well.

Another thing you will find on your credit report is your FICO score. This score, also known as a credit score, is basically your credit history reflected in a number. The number can range from 0 to 900. This is the first thing lenders look at when they are reviewing your request for credit.

Acquiring Your Credit Report for Free

Because so much information is found on your credit report, it is important the report be accurate and up to date. Credit reporting agencies do not substantiate the information they report, which is sent to them by creditors. Therefore, it is not uncommon for incorrect information to wind up consumers’ credit reports. This can obviously cause problems for people, particularly when they are trying to gain new employment.

There are three major credit reporting agencies: Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. It is important you obtain a copy of your credit report from each since they may not all have the same information.

Obtaining a free copy of your credit report is simple. By law everyone is entitled to one free copy of their credit report every 12 months. You can request your credit report online, by phone, or by mail.

Online requests can be made at AnnualCreditReport.com, the only authorized source on the Internet for free annual credit reports. Watch out for online lenders that have similar domain names. If you are being asked to buy your first credit report, you are on the wrong website.

Requests by phone can be made by calling 877-322-8228. This is a safe alternative for consumers who do not want to transmit their personal information over the internet.

Sending requests by traditional ground mail is also an alternative. Simply fill out the appropriate form and mail it to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.

What to Do Once You Get the Report

Once you receive your free copy of your credit report, review it with a fine-tooth comb. Be ruthless in your scrutiny, noting any incorrect information, including misspellings and typos. Remember, credit reporting agencies do not verify information, they simply report it. Take the time to dispute any errors you find. Not only will it ultimately help you financially, but it will also potentially strengthen your competitiveness in the job market and open up more employment opportunities for you.